Part 1 out of 3
Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
[Note on text: Italicized sections are capitalized.
A few obvious errors have been corrected.
Some footnotes have been added, and are clearly marked.]
While this book is by no means famous, it is a remarkable chance
to look at America of 1914 through the eyes of an outsider.
Wu Tingfang shows evidence of having thought through many issues
of relevance to the United States, and while some of his thoughts
are rather odd -- such as his suggestion that the title of President
be replaced by the title of Emperor; and others are unfortunately wrong --
such as his hopes for peace, written on the eve of the First World War;
they are all well-considered and sometimes show remarkable insight
into American culture.
Even so, it should be remarked that he makes some errors,
including some misunderstandings of American and Western ideas
and an idealization of Chinese culture, and humanity in general,
in some points -- while I do not wish to refute his claims about China,
I would simply point out that many of the things he praises
have been seen differently by many outside observers,
just as Wu Tingfang sometimes looks critically at things in America
which he does not fully understand (and, unfortunately,
he is sometimes all too correct) -- in all these cases (on both sides)
some leeway must be given to account for mutual misunderstandings.
Still, his observations allow us to see ourselves as others see us --
and regardless of accuracy those observations are useful,
if only because they will allow us to better communicate.
The range of topics covered is also of particular interest.
Wu Tingfang wrote this book at an interesting juncture in history --
airplanes and motion pictures had recently been invented,
(and his expectations for both these inventions have proven correct),
and while he did not know it, a tremendous cultural shift
was about to take place in the West due to the First World War
and other factors. I will leave it to the reader to see
which ideas have caught on and which have not. The topics include:
Immigration; the Arms Race and changes in technology;
one-time six year terms for the office of President;
religion and/or ethics in the classroom; women's equality;
fashion; violence in the theatre (violence on television);
vegetarianism; and, cruelty to animals.
I will also note that a few passages seem satiric in nature,
though I am not certain that it isn't merely a clash of cultures.
Alan R. Light. Birmingham, Alabama. May, 1996.
Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
by Wu Tingfang, LL.D.
Late Chinese Minister to the United States of America, Spain, Peru,
Mexico and Cuba; recently Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister
of Justice for the Provincial Government of the Republic of China, etc.
Of all nations in the world, America is the most interesting to the Chinese.
A handful of people left England to explore this country:
gradually their number increased, and, in course of time,
emigrants from other lands swelled the population. They were governed
by officials from the home of the first settlers, but when it appeared to them
that they were being treated unjustly, they rebelled and declared war
against their rulers, the strongest nation on the face of the earth.
After seven years of strenuous, perilous, and bloody warfare,
during which thousands of lives were sacrificed on both sides,
the younger race shook off the yoke of the older, and England was compelled
to recognize the independence of the American States. Since then,
in the comparatively short space of one hundred and thirty years,
those revolutionists and their descendants, have not only made
the commonwealth the richest in the world, but have founded a nation
whose word now carries weight with all the other great powers.
The territory at first occupied was not larger than one or two
provinces of China, but by purchase, and in other ways,
the commonwealth has gradually grown till now it extends
from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, from the north where ice is perpetual
to the south where the sun is as hot as in equatorial Singapore.
This young republic has already produced many men and women
who are distinguished in the fields of literature, science, art and invention.
There hosts of men, who in their youth were as poor as church mice,
have, by dint of perseverance and business capacity,
become multi-millionaires. There you may see the richest man in the world
living a simple and abstemious life, without pomp and ostentation,
daily walking in the streets unattended even by a servant.
Many of them have so much money that they do not know what to do with it.
Many foreign counts, dukes, and even princes have been captured
by their wealthy and handsome daughters, some of whom have borne sons
who have become high officers of state in foreign lands.
There you find rich people who devote their time and wealth
to charitable works, sometimes endowing libraries not only in their own land,
but all over the world; there you will find lynching tolerated,
or impossible of prevention; there one man may kill another,
and by the wonderful process of law escape the extreme penalty of death;
there you meet the people who are most favorably disposed
toward the maintenance of peace, and who hold conferences and conventions with
that object in view almost every year; there an American multi-millionaire
devotes a great proportion of his time to the propaganda of peace,
and at his own expense has built in a foreign country a palatial building
to be used as a tribunal of peace.* Yet these people have waged war
on behalf of other nationalities who they thought were being unjustly treated
and when victorious they have not held on to the fruits of their victory
without paying a reasonable price.** There the inhabitants are, as a rule,
extremely patriotic, and in a recent foreign war many gave up
their businesses and professions and volunteered for service in the army;
one of her richest sons enlisted and equipped a whole regiment
at his own expense, and took command of it. In that country
all the citizens are heirs apparent to the throne, called the White House.
A man may become the chief ruler for a few years, but after leaving
the White House he reverts to private citizenship; if he is a lawyer
he may practise and appear before a judge, whom he appointed
while he was president. There a woman may become a lawyer
and plead a case before a court of justice on behalf of a male client;
there freedom of speech and criticism are allowed to the extreme limit,
and people are liable to be annoyed by slanders and libels
without much chance of obtaining satisfaction; there you will see
women wearing "Merry Widow" hats who are not widows but spinsters,
or married women whose husbands are very much alive,
and the hats in many cases are as large as three feet in diameter;***
there you may travel by rail most comfortably on palace cars,
and at night you may sleep on Pullman cars, to find in the morning
that a young lady has been sleeping in the berth above your bed.
The people are most ingenious in that they can float a company
and water the stock without using a drop of fluid; there are bears and bulls
in the Stock Exchange, but you do not see these animals fight,
although they roar and yell loudly enough. It is certainly
a most extraordinary country. The people are wonderful
and are most interesting and instructive to the Chinese.
* This magnificent building at The Hague, which is aptly called
the Palace of Peace, was formally opened on the 28th of August, 1913,
in the presence of Queen Wilhelmina, Mr. Carnegie (the founder)
and a large assembly of foreign representatives.
** I refer to the Spanish-American War. Have captured the Philippine Islands,
the United States paid $20,000,000, gold, for it to the Spanish Government.
*** This was several years ago. Fashions change every year.
The present type is equally ludicrous.
Such a race should certainly be very interesting to study.
During my two missions to America where I resided nearly eight years,
repeated requests were made that I should write my observations
and impressions of America. I did not feel justified in doing so
for several reasons: first, I could not find time for such a task
amidst my official duties; secondly, although I had been travelling
through many sections of the country, and had come in contact
officially and socially with many classes of people, still there might be
some features of the country and some traits of the people
which had escaped my attention; and thirdly, though I had seen
much in America to arouse my admiration, I felt that here and there,
there was room for improvement, and to be compelled to criticize people
who had been generous, courteous, and kind was something I did not wish to do.
In answer to my scruples I was told that I was not expected
to write about America in a partial or unfair manner,
but to state impressions of the land just as I had found it.
A lady friend, for whose opinion I have the highest respect, said in effect,
"We want you to write about our country and to speak of our people
in an impartial and candid way; we do not want you to bestow praise
where it is undeserved; and when you find anything deserving
of criticism or condemnation you should not hesitate to mention it,
for we like our faults to be pointed out that we may reform."
I admit the soundness of my friend's argument. It shows the broad-mindedness
and magnanimity of the American people. In writing the following pages
I have uniformly followed the principles laid down by my American lady friend.
I have not scrupled to frankly and freely express my views,
but I hope not in any carping spirit; and I trust American readers
will forgive me if they find some opinions they cannot endorse.
I assure them they were not formed hastily or unkindly.
Indeed, I should not be a sincere friend were I to picture their country
as a perfect paradise, or were I to gloss over what seem to me
to be their defects.
Chapter 1. The Importance of Names
Chapter 2. American Prosperity
Chapter 3. American Government
Chapter 4. America and China
Chapter 5. American Education
Chapter 6. American Business Methods
Chapter 7. American Freedom and Equality
Chapter 8. American Manners
Chapter 9. American Women
Chapter 10. American Costumes
Chapter 11. American versus Chinese Civilization
Chapter 12. American versus Chinese Civilization (Continued)
Chapter 13. Dinners, Banquets, Etc.
Chapter 14. Theaters
Chapter 15. Opera and Musical Entertainments
Chapter 16. Conjuring and Circuses
Chapter 17. Sports
Through the Spectacles of an Oriental Diplomat
Chapter 1. The Importance of Names
"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."
Notwithstanding these lines, I maintain that the selection of names
is important. They should always be carefully chosen.
They are apt to influence friendships or to excite prejudices
according to their significance. We Chinese are very particular
in this matter. When a son is born the father or the grandfather
chooses a name for the infant boy which, according to his horoscope,
is likely to insure him success, or a name is selected which indicates
the wish of the family for the new-born child. Hence such names
as "happiness", "prosperity", "longevity", "success", and others,
with like propitious import, are common in China. With regard to girls
their names are generally selected from flowers, fruits, or trees.
Particular care is taken not to use a name which has a bad meaning.
In Washington I once met a man in an elevator whose name was "Coffin".
Was I to be blamed for wondering if the elevator would be my coffin?
On another occasion I met a man whose name was "Death",
and as soon as I heard his name I felt inclined to run away,
for I did not wish to die. I am not superstitious.
I have frequently taken dinner with thirteen persons at the table,
and I do not hesitate to start on a journey on a Friday.
I often do things which would not be done by superstitious persons in China.
But to meet a man calling himself "Coffin" or "Death" was too much for me,
and with all my disbelief in superstition I could not help showing
some repugnance to those who bore such names.
Equally important, if not more so, is the selection of a name
for a state or a nation. When the several states of America
became independent they called themselves the "United States of America" --
a very happy idea. The Union was originally composed of thirteen states,
covering about 300,000 square miles; it is now composed of forty-eight states
and three territories, which in area amount to 3,571,492 square miles,
practically as large in extent as China, the oldest nation in the world.
It should be noted that the name is most comprehensive: it might comprise
the entire continent of North and South America. It is safe to say that
the founders of the nation did not choose such a name without consideration,
and doubtless the designation "United States of America"
conceals a deep motive. I once asked a gentleman who said he was an American
whether he had come from South or North America, or whether he was a Mexican,
a Peruvian or a native of any of the countries in Central America?
He replied with emphasis that he was an American citizen of the United States.
I said it might be the United States of Mexico, or Argentina,
or other United States, but he answered that when he called himself a citizen
it could not mean any other than that of the United States of America.
I have asked many other Americans similar questions and they all have given me
replies in the same way. We Chinese call our nation "The Middle Kingdom";
it was supposed to be in the center of the earth. I give credit
to the founders of the United States for a better knowledge of geography
than that possessed by my countrymen of ancient times
and do not assume that the newly formed nation was supposed to comprise
the whole continent of North and South America, yet the name chosen
is so comprehensive as to lead one naturally to suspect that it was intended
to include the entire continent. However, from my observation
of their national conduct, I believe their purpose was just and humane;
it was to set a noble example to the sister nations in the Western Hemisphere,
and to knit more closely all the nations on that continent
through the bonds of mutual justice, goodwill and friendship.
The American nation is, indeed, itself a pleasing and unique example
of the principle of democracy. Its government is ideal,
with a liberal constitution, which in effect declares
that all men are created equal, and that the government is "of the people,
for the people, and by the people." Anyone with ordinary intelligence
and with open eyes, who should visit any city, town or village in America,
could not but be impressed with the orderly and unostentatious way
in which it is governed by the local authorities, or help being struck
by the plain and democratic character of the people.
Even in the elementary schools, democracy is taught and practised.
I remember visiting a public school for children in Philadelphia,
which I shall never forget. There were about three or four hundred children,
boys and girls, between seven and fourteen years of age.
They elected one of their students as mayor, another as judge,
another as police commissioner, and in fact they elected
for the control of their school community almost all the officials who
usually govern a city. There were a few Chinese children among the students,
and one of them was pointed out to me as the police superintendent.
This not only eloquently spoke of his popularity, but showed
goodwill and harmony among the several hundred children,
and the entire absence of race feeling. The principals and teachers
told me that they had no difficulty whatever with the students.
If one of them did anything wrong, which was not often,
he would be taken by the student policeman before the judge,
who would try the case, and decide it on its merits,
and punish or discharge his fellow student as justice demanded.
I was assured by the school authorities that this system of self-government
worked admirably; it not only relieved the teachers of the burden
of constantly looking after the several hundred pupils,
but each of them felt a moral responsibility to behave well,
for the sake of preserving the peace and good name of the school.
Thus early imbued with the idea of self-government, and entrusted
with the responsibilities of its administration, these children when grown up,
take a deep interest in federal and municipal affairs,
and, when elected for office, invariably perform their duties efficiently
and with credit to themselves.
It cannot be disputed that the United States with its democratic
system of government has exercised a great influence over
the states and nations in Central and South America. The following data
showing the different nations of America, with the dates at which
they turned their respective governments from Monarchies into Republics,
all subsequent to the independence of the United States, are very significant.
Mexico became a Republic in 1823, Honduras in 1839, Salvador in 1839,
Nicaragua in 1821, Costa Rica in 1821, Panama in 1903, Colombia in 1819,
Venezuela in 1830, Ecuador in 1810, Brazil in 1889, Peru in 1821,
Bolivia in 1825, Paraguay in 1811, Chile in 1810, Argentina in 1824,
and Uruguay in 1828.
These Republics have been closely modelled upon the republican
form of government of the United States; thus, nearly all
the nations or states on the continent of America have become Republics.
Canada still belongs to Great Britain. The fair and generous policy
pursued by the Imperial Government of Great Britain accounts for
the Canadians' satisfaction with their political position,
and for the fact that they do not wish a change. It must be noted,
however, that a section of the American people would like to see Canada
incorporated with the United States. I remember that at a public meeting
held in Washington, at which Sir Wilfrid Laurier, then Premier of Canada,
was present, an eminent judge of the Federal Supreme Court
jocularly expressed a wish that Canada should be annexed to the United States.
Later, Mr. Champ Clark, a leader of the Democratic party
in the House of Representatives, addressed the House
urging the annexation of Canada. Even if these statements
are not taken seriously they at least show the feelings of some people,
and he would be a bold man who would prophesy the political status of Canada
in the future. There is, however, no present indication of any change
being desired by the Canadians, and it may be safely presumed
that the existing conditions will continue for many years to come.
This is not to be wondered at, for Canada though nominally a British colony
practically enjoys almost all the privileges of an independent state.
She possesses a constitution similar to that of the United Kingdom,
with a parliament of two houses, called the "Senate",
and the "House of Commons". The Sovereign of Great Britain
appoints only the Governor General who acts in his name,
but the Dominion is governed by a responsible Ministry,
and all domestic affairs are managed by local officials,
without interference from the Home Government. Canadians enjoy as many rights
as the inhabitants of England, with the additional advantage
that they do not have to bear the burden of maintaining an army and navy.
Some years ago, if I remember rightly, in consequence of some agitation
or discussion for independence, the late Lord Derby, then Secretary of State
for the Colonies, stated that if the Canadians really wished for independence,
the Home Government would not oppose, but that they should consider
if they would gain anything by the change, seeing that they already
had self-government, enjoyed all the benefits of a free people,
and that the only right the Home Government reserved was the appointment
of the Governor-General, although it assumed the responsibility
of protecting every inch of their territory from encroachment.
Since this sensible advice from the Colonial Secretary,
I have heard nothing more of the agitation for independence.
From a commercial point of view, and for the welfare of the people,
there is not much to choose to-day between a Limited Monarchy and a Republic.
Let us, for instance, compare England with the United States.
The people of England are as free and independent as the people
of the United States, and though subjects, they enjoy as much freedom
as Americans. There are, however, some advantages in favor of a Republic.
Americans until recently paid their President a salary of only $50,000 a year;
it is now $75,000 with an additional allowance of $25,000
for travelling expenses. This is small indeed compared with the Civil List
of the King or Emperor of any great nation. There are more chances
in a Republic for ambitious men to distinguish themselves; for instance,
a citizen can become a president, and practically assume the functions
of a king or an emperor. In fact the President of the United States
appoints his own cabinet officials, ambassadors, ministers, etc.
It is generally stated that every new president has the privilege
of making more than ten thousand appointments. With regard to
the administration and executive functions he has in practice
more power than is usually exercised by a king or an emperor
of a Constitutional Monarchy. On the other hand, in some matters,
the executive of a Republic cannot do what a king or an emperor can do;
for example, a president cannot declare war against a foreign nation
without first obtaining the consent of Congress. In a monarchical government
the king or the cabinet officials assume enormous responsibilities.
Lord Beaconsfield (then Mr. D'Israeli), while he was Prime Minister
of England, purchased in 1875 from the Khedive of Egypt
176,602 Suez Canal shares for the sum of 3,976,582 Pounds
on his own responsibility, and without consulting the Imperial Parliament.
When Parliament or Congress has to be consulted about everything,
great national opportunities to do some profitable business
must undoubtedly be sometimes lost. No such bold national investment
as that made by Lord Beaconsfield could have been undertaken
by any American president on his own responsibility. Mr. Cleveland,
when president of the United States, said that "the public affairs
of the United States are transacted in a glass house."
Washington, in his farewell address, advised his compatriots
that on account of the detached and distant situation of their country
they should, in extending their commercial relations with foreign nations,
have as little political connection with them as possible;
and he asked this pertinent and pregnant question, "Why, by interweaving
our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity
in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor, or caprice?"
In 1823, twenty-seven years after Washington's celebrated address,
President Monroe in his annual message to Congress warned the European Powers
not to plant any new colonies on any portion of the American hemisphere,
as any attempt on their part to extend their system in that part of the world
would be considered as dangerous to the peace and safety of the United States.
This "Monroe Doctrine", as it has since been called, practically protects
every state and country on the American continent from attack or interference
by any foreign power, and it cannot be denied that it has been and is now
the chief factor in preserving the integrity of all the countries
on that continent. Thus the United States is assuming the role of guardian
over the other American nations. In the city of Washington
there is an International Bureau of the American Republics,
in which all the Republics of Central and South America are represented.
It is housed in a magnificent palace made possible by the beneficence
of Mr. Andrew Carnegie, the American multi-millionaire and philanthropist,
and the contributions of the different governments. It cost 750,000
gold dollars, and Mr. John Barrett, the capable and popular director
of the Bureau, has well called it "a temple of friendship and commerce
and a meeting place for the American Republics." The Bureau is supported
by the joint contributions of the twenty-one American Republics,
and its affairs are controlled by a governing board
composed of their diplomatic representatives in Washington,
with the American Secretary of State as chairman ex officio.
This institution no doubt strengthens the position of the United States
and is calculated to draw the American Republics into closer friendship.
Chapter 2. American Prosperity
One of the main causes of the prosperity of the great American Republic
is its natural resources. It possesses coal, oil, silver, gold, copper,
and all the other mineral ores. Nature seems, indeed, to have provided almost
everything that man needs. The soil is rich; wheat and every kind of fruit
can be grown; but favorable as are these native conditions
they could not be turned to any great advantage without the skill and industry
of enterprising men. Many countries in Africa and Asia
possess equal advantages, but they are not equally prosperous.
This leads me to the consideration of another reason for America's growth.
The men who have migrated to the United States have not been rich people.
They went there to make a living. They were prepared to work,
their purpose was to improve their condition, and they were willing
to undertake any manual or mental labor to accomplish their object.
They were hardy and strong and could bear a heavy strain.
Their children inherited their good qualities, and so an American
is generally more hard working and enterprising than most of the people
in Europe and elsewhere.
Another reason for America's success is the great freedom
which each citizen enjoys. Every man considers himself the equal
of every other, and a young man who is ambitious will not rest
until he reaches the top of his profession or trade. Thousands of Americans
who were once very poor, have become millionaires or multi-millionaires.
Many of them had no college education, they taught themselves,
and some of them have become both literary and scholarly.
A college or university education does not necessarily make a man learned;
it only gives him the opportunity to learn. It is said
that some college men have proven themselves to be quite ignorant,
or rather that they do not know so much as those who have been self-taught.
I do not in any way wish to disparage a college education;
no doubt men who have been trained in a university start in life
with better prospects and with a greater chance of success,
but those men who have not had such advantages have doubtless done much
to make their country great and prosperous, and they ought to be recognized
as great men.
The general desire of the American people to travel abroad
is one of their good traits. People who never leave their homes
cannot know much. A person may become well-informed by reading,
but his practical knowledge cannot be compared with that of a person
who has travelled. We Chinese are great sinners in this regard.
A Chinese maxim says, "It is dangerous to ride on horseback or to go
on a voyage": hence until very recently we had a horror of going abroad.
A person who remains all his life in his own town is generally narrow-minded,
self-opinioned, and selfish. The American people are free from these faults.
It is not only the rich and the well-to-do who visit foreign countries,
but tradesmen and workmen when they have saved a little money
also often cross the Atlantic. Some years ago a Senator in Washington told me
that he crossed the Atlantic Ocean every summer and spent several months
in Europe, and that the next trip would be his twenty-eighth voyage.
I found, however, that he had never gone beyond Europe. I ventured to suggest
that he should extend his next annual journey a little farther
and visit Japan, China, and other places in the Far East
which I felt sure he would find both interesting and instructive.
I have travelled through many countries in Europe and South America,
and wherever I have gone and at whatever hotel I have put up,
I have always found some Americans, and on many occasions I have met
friends and acquaintances whom I had known in Washington or New York.
But it is not only the men who go abroad; in many cases ladies
also travel by themselves. On several occasions lady friends
from Washington, Philadelphia, and New York have visited me in Peking.
This is one of the Americans' strong points. Is it not wiser
and much more useful to disburse a few hundred dollars or so
in travelling and gaining knowledge, coming in contact with other peoples
and enlarging the mind, than to spend large sums of money in gaudy dresses,
precious stones, trinkets, and other luxuries?
In a large country like America where a considerable portion of the land
still remains practically uncultivated or undeveloped,
hardy, industrious, and patient workmen are a necessity.
But the almost unchecked influx of immigrants who are not desirable citizens
cannot but harm the country. In these days of international trade
it is right that ingress and egress from one country to another
should be unhampered, but persons who have committed crimes at home,
or who are ignorant and illiterate, cannot become desirable citizens anywhere.
They should be barred out of the United States of America. It is well known
that foreigners take part in the municipal and federal affairs of the country
as soon as they become citizens. Now if such persons really worked
for the good of their adopted country, there could be no objection to this,
but it is no secret that many have no such motives. That being so,
it is a question whether steps should not be taken to limit their freedom.
On the other hand, as many farms suffer from lack of workmen,
people from whatever country who are industrious, patient, and persevering
ought to be admitted as laborers. They would be a great boon to the nation.
The fear of competition by cheap labor is causeless; regulations might
be drawn up for the control of these foreign laborers, and on their arrival
they could be drafted to those places where their services
might be most urgently needed. So long as honest and steady workmen
are excluded for no reason other than that they are Asiatics, while white men
are indiscriminately admitted, I fear that the prosperity of the country
cannot be considered permanent, for agriculture is the backbone
of stable wealth. Yet at present it is the country's wealth
which is one of the important factors of America's greatness.
In the United States there are thousands of individuals
whose fortunes are counted by seven or eight figures in gold dollars.
And much of this money has been used to build railways,
or to develop manufactories and other useful industries.
The country has grown great through useful work, and not on account
of the army and navy. In 1881 America's army numbered only 26,622 men,
and her navy consisted of only 24 iron-clads, 2 torpedo-boats, and 25 tugs,
but in 1910 the peace strength of her army was 96,628 and the navy boasted
33 battleships and 120 armored cruisers of different sizes.
Within the last few years it has been the policy of many nations
to increase the army and to build as many Dreadnaughts and super-dreadnaughts
as possible. Many statesmen have been infected by this Dreadnaught fever.
Their policy seems to be based on the idea that the safety of a nation
depends on the number of its battleships. Even peaceful and moderate men
are carried away by this hobby, and support it. It is forgotten
that great changes have taken place during the last twenty or thirty years;
that a nation can now be attacked by means quite beyond the reach
of Dreadnaughts. The enormous sums spent on these frightful monsters,
if applied to more worthy objects, would have a greater effect
in preserving the nations' heritages than anything these monstrosities can do.
The nation which has a large army and a strong navy may be called powerful,
but it cannot be considered great without other good requisites.
I consider a nation as great when she is peacefully, justly,
and humanely governed, and when she possesses a large number
of benevolent and good men who have a voice in the administration.
The greater the number of good men that a nation possesses
the greater she becomes. America is known to have a large number
of such men and women, men and women who devote their time and money
to preaching peace among the nations. Mr. Andrew Carnegie is worth
a hundred Dreadnaughts. He and others like him are the chief factors
in safeguarding the interests and welfare of America. The territory
of the United States is separated from Europe and other countries
by vast oceans; so that it would be difficult, if not impossible,
for a foe to successfully attack any portion of that country.
But who wishes to attack her? She has scarcely an enemy.
No country is invaded by another without cause, and as the United States
is in friendly relations with all the Powers, there is no reason
to fear foreign invasion. Even should a foreign power
successfully attack her and usurp a portion of her territories,
a supposition which is most improbable, would the enemy be able
to hold what he seized? History shows that no conquered country
has ever been successfully and permanently kept without the people's consent,
and there is not the least chance that the Americans will ever consent
to the rule of a foreign government.
It is to be hoped that the United States will not follow
the example of other nations and unduly increase her armaments,
but that she will take the lead in the universal peace movement
and show the world that a great power can exist and maintain her position
without force of arms. I am aware that general disarmament is not popular
among statesmen, that it has been denounced by an eminent authority
as a "will-o'-the wisp", that arbitration has been styled a "Jack-o'-lantern",
but this is not the first time a good and workable scheme has been branded
with opprobrious names. The abolition of slavery was at one time considered
to be an insane man's dream; now all people believe in it.
Will the twentieth century witness the collapse of our present civilization?
Why are the world's armaments constantly increasing?
To my mind it is due to two causes, one of which is mistrust.
One nation begins to build Dreadnaughts, another does the same
through fear and mistrust. The second cause is that
it is the fashion of some nations to follow the example of others
that they may preserve their position as great naval powers.
But it is unnecessary for the United States to show such mistrust or to follow
such fashion. She should rather, as becomes a great and powerful nation,
take an independent course of her own. If she sets the example
other nations in due time will follow her. The peace of the world
will be more surely guarded, and America will win the approbation,
the respect, and the gratitude of all peace-loving people.
Chapter 3. American Government
Democratic principles were enunciated by Chinese philosophers as long ago
as 4,500 years, and from time to time various emperors and statesmen
have endeavored to apply them to the government of China,
but these principles in all their minute details have been exemplified
only by the wisdom of the statesmen in the West. In the United States
they are in full swing. As China has now become a Republic, not in name only
but in fact, it will be well for her statesmen and politicians
to examine the American constitution, and to study its workings.
To do this at close range it will be necessary for the student
to visit Washington, the Capital of the United States of America.
Here he will find the President, or the chief of the nation.
With the co-operation of his Cabinet and a large staff of assistants,
the President administers the affairs of the Federal Government.
He may be a new man and have had no previous training in diplomacy,
and little administrative experience, but in all probability
he is a man of resource and adaptability, who has mastered every detail
of his high office. All important matters are referred to him,
so that his daily work taxes his whole strength and energy.
Another part of his function is to see the Congressmen, Senators,
or Representatives, and others who call to see him on business,
and this takes up a great part of his time. In fact, he is expected to be,
and generally is, `Suaviter in modo, fortiter in re'.
In Washington the National Congress, which is composed of the Senate
and of the House of Representatives, holds its sittings in the Capitol,
and passes bills subject to the approval of the President.
If he signs a bill it becomes law, and binds the nation.
The basic principle of democracy is the sovereignty of the people,
but as the people cannot of themselves govern the country,
they must delegate their power to agents who act for them.
Thus they elect the Chief Magistrate to govern the country,
and legislators to make the laws. The powers given to these agents
are irrevocable during their respective terms of office. The electors
are absolutely bound by their actions. Whatever laws Congress may pass,
the people must strictly obey; thus the servants of the people
really become their masters. There is no fear, however,
that their masters pro tempore will betray their trust, as any neglect
of duty on their part, or disregard of the wishes of their constituents,
would most likely destroy their chances of re-election.
According to the terms of the Constitution, the senators and representatives
must be residents of the states for which they are chosen.
This is an excellent provision, insuring that the people's delegates
possess local knowledge and know how to safeguard the interests and welfare of
the states which sent them to Washington. On the other hand, as each state,
irrespective of its size, is entitled to elect only two Senators,
and to send only a limited number of Representatives to the House,
proportionally to its population, unfortunately it frequently happens
that eminent, capable, and well-known public men, of large experience,
are deprived of an opportunity to serve their country. In England,
and in some other lands, the electors may choose as their representative
a resident of any city, borough, or county as they please,
and it only occasionally happens that the member of Parliament
actually lives in the district which he represents. Is it advisable
to adopt a similar system in the United States? It could not be done
without amending the Constitution, and this would not be easy;
but every nation, as well as each individual, should be prepared,
at all times, to receive fresh light, and be willing to change old customs
to suit new conditions, and so I make the suggestion.
The fixing of four years as the term of office for the President
was an excellent idea, intended no doubt to prevent an unpopular
or bad President from remaining too long in power. It is, however,
gradually dawning on the minds of intelligent people that this limited term,
though excellent in theory, is very inconvenient in practice.
However intelligent and capable a new President may be,
several months must elapse before he can thoroughly understand
all the details incidental to his exalted position, involving,
in addition to unavoidable social functions, the daily reception of callers,
and many other multifarious duties. By the time he has become familiar
with these matters, and the work of the office is running smoothly,
half of his term has gone; and should he aspire to a second term,
which is quite natural, he must devote a great deal of time and attention
to electioneering. Four years is plainly too short a period
to give any President a chance to do justice either to himself
or to the nation which entrusted him with his heavy responsibilities.
Presidential elections are national necessities, but the less frequently
they occur the better for the general welfare of the country.
Those who have been in the United States during campaign years,
and have seen the complicated working of the political machinery,
and all its serious consequences, will, I feel convinced,
agree with what I say. During the greater part of the year in which
a President has to be elected the entire nation is absorbed in the event,
all the people, both high and low, being more or less
keenly interested in the issue, and the preparations leading up to it.
They seem to put everything else in the shade, and to give more attention
to this than to anything else. Politicians and officials who have
a personal interest in the result, will devote their whole time and energy
to the work. Others who are less active, still, directly or indirectly,
take their share in the electioneering. Campaign funds have to be raised
and large sums of money are disbursed in many directions.
All this sadly interrupts business; it not only takes many business men
from their more legitimate duties, but it prevents merchants
and large corporations from embarking in new enterprises,
and so incidentally limits the demand for labor. In short,
the whole nation is practically hurled into a state of bustle and excitement,
and the general trade of the country is seriously affected.
A young man in Washington, who was engaged to be married, once told me
that he was too busy to think of marriage until the election was over.
If the French system were followed, and the President were elected by a
majority of the combined votes of the Senate and the House of Representatives,
the inconveniences, the excitements and expense above enumerated
might be avoided, but I think the people of America
would rather endure these evils than be deprived of the pleasure
of electing their President themselves. The alternate remedy,
so far as I can see, is to extend the presidential term to, say,
six or seven years, without any chance of a re-election.
If this proposal were adopted, the President would be
more free and independent, he would not be haunted by the bugbear
of losing his position by temporarily displeasing his political friends,
he could give his undivided attention, as he cannot do now,
to federal affairs, and work without bias or fear, and without interruption,
for the welfare of his nation. He would have more chance
of really doing something for his country which was worth while.
A further advantage is that the country would not be so frequently troubled
with the turmoil and excitement arising from the presidential election.
If I were allowed to prophecy, I should say that the young Republic of China,
profiting by the experiences of France and America, will most likely adopt
the French system of electing its President, or develop a system
somewhat similar to it.
One of the defects in the American way of government is the spoils system,
in accordance with the maxim, "To the victor belongs the spoils."
The new President has the right of dismissing a large number
of the holders of Federal Offices, and to appoint in their places
his friends, or men of his party who have rendered it services,
or who have otherwise been instrumental in getting him elected.
I am told that thousands of officials are turned out in this way
every four years. President Jackson introduced the practice,
and almost every succeeding President has continued it.
This spoils system has been adopted by almost every state and municipality;
it forms indeed the corner-stone of practical politics in the United States.
In every country, all over the world, there are cases where positions
and places of emolument have been obtained through influential friends,
but to dismiss public servants who are doing useful work,
for no better reason than simply to make room for others,
is very bad for the civil service, and for the country it serves.
Attempts to remedy these evils have been made within recent years
by the introduction of what is called "Civil Service Reform",
by which a candidate is appointed to a post after an examination,
and the term of his service is fixed. If this is to be strictly adhered to
in all cases, the President will be, to a great extent,
deprived of the means of rewarding his political friends.
In that case I doubt if the professional politicians and wire pullers
will be so active and arduous as they have hitherto been, as the chief aim
in securing the election of the nominee will have been taken away.
Great credit is due to President Taft for his courage and impartiality,
in that after assuming the duties of the high office to which he was elected,
he gave appointments to men according to their ability,
irrespective of party claims, and even went so far as to invite
one or two gentlemen of known ability, who belonged to the opposite party,
to become members of his Cabinet.
In America men are not anxious for official offices.
Men possessing talent and ability, with business acumen, are in great demand,
and can distinguish themselves in their several professions in various ways;
they can easily attain a position of wealth and influence, and so such men
keep out of politics. It must not, however, be inferred from this
that the government officials in America are incompetent.
On the contrary I gladly testify from my personal experience
that the work done by them is not only efficient, but that, taken as a whole,
they compare most favorably with any other body of government officials
in Europe. Still, on account of the small salaries paid,
it is not to be wondered at that exceptionally good men cannot be induced
to accept official positions. I have known several Cabinet Ministers who,
after holding their offices for two or three years, were obliged to resign
and resume their former business, and a President has been known to experience
great difficulty in getting good and competent men to succeed them.
These remarks do not apply to the President, not because the President's
salary is large, for compared with what European Kings and Emperors receive
it is very small, but because the position is, far and above any other,
the largest gift the people can bestow. No one has ever been known
to refuse a presidential nomination. I believe anyone to whom it was offered
would always gladly accept it. I have conversed with some in America
who told me that they were heirs apparent to the White House,
and so they are, for they are just as eligible candidates for the position,
as is the Crown Prince to succeed to a throne in any European country.
Even a lady was once nominated as a presidential candidate,
although she did not obtain many votes.
One of the things which arouses my admiration is the due observance
by the people of the existing laws and the Constitution.
Every one obeys them, from the President to the pedler, without any exception.
Sometimes, however, by a too strict and technical interpretation of the law,
it works a hardship. Let me quote a case. According to Article 1,
Section 6, of the Constitution, "no Senator or Representative shall,
during the time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil office
under the authority of the United States, which shall have been created,
or the emoluments whereof shall have been increased, during such time."
A certain Senator was appointed by the President to a Cabinet office,
but it happened that the salary attached to that office had been raised
during the time he was in the Senate, and so it was held that he could draw
only the salary which was allowed before he became a Senator,
and that he was not entitled to the increase which was sanctioned by Congress
while he was in the Senate, although at the time he had not
the slightest notion that the increase would ever affect his own pocket.
The relation of the states to the Federal Government is peculiar and unique.
I will illustrate my point by correcting a mistake often made by foreigners
in regard to the different provinces of China. It is generally assumed
by Western writers that each province in China is self-governed,
and that the provincial authorities act independently and in defiance of
the injunctions of the Peking Government. The facts, however, are that
until the establishment of the Republic, all the officials in the Provinces
were appointed or sanctioned by the Peking Government, and that
by an Imperial decree even a Viceroy or Governor could, at any moment,
be changed or dismissed, and that no important matter could be transacted
without the Imperial sanction. How does this compare with the states
in America? Every American boasts that his state is independent
of the Federal Government. All officials, from the Governor downward,
are, in every state, elected by the people. Each state is provided
with a Legislature consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives,
also elected by the popular vote. The state has very large,
and almost absolute, legislative and executive powers,
and is competent to deal with all matters not reserved by the Constitution
for the Federal Government. Each state is also independent
of every other state. The criminal and civil laws, including all matters
pertaining to the transfer of and the succession to property,
as well as marriage, divorce and fiscal laws, are within the scope
of the state administrations. The authorities of each state
naturally do their best to make their own state as populous and prosperous
as possible. Thus in some states the laws concerning divorce, corporations,
and landed property, are more favorable than in other states.
A person, for example, unable to obtain a divorce in his own state,
can, without difficulty, attain his object in another state.
What is expressly prohibited by statute in one state
may be perfectly legitimate in the neighboring state.
It is the same with the local taxes; fees and taxes are not uniform;
in one state they are heavy, while in another they are comparatively light.
A stranger would naturally be surprised to find such a condition of things
in a great nation like America, and would wonder how the machinery
of such a government can work so well. Nevertheless he will find
that everything goes on smoothly. This can be explained only by the fact
that the inhabitants of one state often remove to other states,
and by commercial and other dealings and social associations
they mix together, so that, notwithstanding the dissimilarity of conditions
in different states, the people easily adapt themselves
to the local surroundings, and, so far as I can find,
no friction or quarrel has ever arisen between two states. However,
would it not be better for all the states to appoint an interstate committee
to revise and codify their laws with a view to making them uniform?
Foreigners living in America sometimes find themselves at a disadvantage,
owing to the state being independent of the control of the Federal Government.
This point can be better illustrated by a case which happened some years ago
in one of the states. A foreigner, who was the subject of a European country,
was attacked by a mob, and his property destroyed. He laid his complaint
before the local authorities, but it appeared that he could not obtain
the redress he sought. His consul did all he could for him
by appealing to the local authorities, but without success;
finally the matter was reported to his ambassador in Washington,
who immediately interested himself in the affair and brought it before
the Secretary of State. The Secretary, after going into
the facts of the case, said that all he could do was to write to
the Governor of that state and request him to take the matter up,
but the Governor, for some reason or other, did not take any such action
as would have given satisfactory redress to the foreigner.
His ambassador made frequent appeals to the Secretary of State,
but the Secretary was powerless, as the Constitution
does not empower the Federal Government to interfere in state matters.
This seems a blemish in the administration of foreign affairs
in the United States of America. Suppose a foreigner should be
ill-treated or murdered in a state, and no proper redress be given,
the Federal Government cannot send its officers to arrest the culprit.
All it can do is to ask the Governor of that state to take action,
and if he fail to do so there is no remedy. Fortunately such a case
rarely happens, but for the more efficient carrying on of their state affairs,
is it not better in special cases to invest the Federal Government
with larger powers than those at present possessed by it?
I am aware that this opens up a serious question; that Congress will be
very reluctant to confer on the Federal Government any power to interfere
in the state affairs, knowing that the states would not tolerate
such an interference; but as there is a large and ever increasing number
of aliens residing in the United States, it naturally follows that riots,
and charges of ill treatment of foreigners now and then do occur.
Now state officials can, as a rule, be trusted to deal with
these matters fairly, but where local prejudice against a class of aliens
runs high, is it not advisable to leave to the Federal officials,
who are disinterested, the settlement of such cases? For the sake
of cordial foreign relations, and to avoid international complications,
this point, I venture to suggest, should be seriously considered
by the Federal and the State Governments.
The question as to what form of government should be adopted by any country
is not easy to decide. The people of America would no doubt claim
that their system is the best, while the people of the monarchial governments
in Europe would maintain that theirs is preferable. This is mostly
a matter of education, and people who have been accustomed
to their own form of government naturally like it best.
There are communities who have been long accustomed to the old system
of monarchial government, with their ancient traditions and usages.
There are other communities, with a different political atmosphere,
where all the people share in the public affairs of State.
It would be manifestly improper to introduce a democratic government
among the former. It would not suit their tastes nor fit in with their ideas.
What is good for one nation is not necessarily good for another.
Each system of government has its good points, provided that
they are faithfully and justly carried out. The aim to secure
the happiness and comfort of the people and to promote
the peace and prosperity of the nation should always be kept in view.
As long as these objects can be secured it does not matter much
whether the government is monarchial, republican, or something else.
It may pertinently be asked why China has become a Republic,
since from time immemorial she has had a monarchial form of government.
The answer is that the conditions and circumstances in China are peculiar,
and are different from those prevailing in Japan and other countries.
In Japan it is claimed that the Empire was founded by the first Emperor,
Jummu Tenno, 660 B.C. and that the dynasty founded by him
has continued ever since. It is well known that the Chinese Imperial family
is of Manchu origin. The Ching dynasty was founded in 1644 by conquest,
not by succession. Upon the recent overthrow of the Manchu dynasty
it was found very difficult to find a Chinese, however popular and able,
who possessed the legal right of succeeding to the throne.
Jealousy and provincial feelings placed this suggestion absolutely
beyond discussion. Disagreements, frictions, and constant civil war
would have ensued if any attempt had been made to establish a Chinese dynasty.
Another fact is that a large majority of the intelligent people of China
were disgusted with the system of monarchial government.
Thus it will be seen that for the sake of the peace and welfare of the nation
there was no other course for the people but to take a long jump
and to establish the present Republic. The law of evolution
has been very actively at work in China, and no doubt it will be
for her ultimate good, and therefore for the benefit of all mankind.
China is now an infant republic, but she will grow into
a healthy and strong youth. Her people have the kindest feeling
for the people of the elder republic across the Pacific.
There are excellent reasons why the two republics should be
in closer friendship. It is well known that there are great potentialities
for the expansion of trade in China, and as the Philippine Islands
are close to our shores, and the completion of the Panama Canal
will open a new avenue for the enlargement of trade from America,
it will be to the interest of both nations to stretch out their hands
across the Pacific in the clasp of good fellowship and brotherhood.
When this is done, not only will international commerce greatly increase,
but peace, at least in the Eastern Hemisphere, will be better secured
than by a fleet of Dreadnaughts.
Chapter 4. America and China
America has performed great service for the Orient and especially for China.
If, however, the people of the latter country were asked to express their
candid opinion on the matter, the verdict would not be altogether pleasant,
but would be given with mixed feelings of gratitude and regret.
Since the formal opening of China to foreign trade and commerce,
people of all nationalities have come here, some to trade, some for pleasure,
some to preach Christianity, and others for other purposes.
Considering that the Chinese have a civilization of their own,
and that their modes of thoughts, ideas, and habits are, in many respects,
different from those of the western people, it is not surprising
that frictions and disputes have occasionally occurred
and that even foreign wars have been waged between China and the Occident,
but it is gratifying to observe that no force has ever been resorted to
against China by the United States of America. Now and then
troublesome questions have arisen, but they have always been settled amicably.
Indeed the just and friendly attitude taken by the American officials in China
had so won the esteem and confidence of the Chinese Government that in 1867,
on the termination of Mr. Anson Burlingame's term as American
Minister to Peking, he was appointed by the Manchu Government
as Chief of a special mission to America and Europe. In that capacity
he performed valuable services for China, although his work was unfortunately
cut short by his untimely death. The liberal and generous treatment
accorded to the Chinese students in America is another source of satisfaction.
They have been admitted freely to all educational institutions,
and welcomed into American families. In whatever school or college they enter
they are taught in the same way as the American boys and girls, and enjoy
equal opportunities of learning all that the American students learn.*
That America has no desire for territorial acquisition in China is well known.
During the Boxer movement the American Government took the lead
in initiating the policy of maintaining the open door,
and preserving the integrity of China, a policy to which
the other great powers readily consented. It was well known at the time,
and it is no breach of confidence to mention the fact here,
that Mr. John Hay, American Secretary of State, with the permission
of President McKinley, was quite willing that America's indemnity
demanded from China as her share of the compensation for losses sustained
during the Boxer upheaval, should be reduced by one-half,
provided the other powers would consent to similar reductions. Unfortunately,
Mr. Hay's proposal could not be carried out for want of unanimity.
However, to show the good faith, and the humane and just policy of America,
she has since voluntarily refunded to China a considerable portion
of her indemnity, being the surplus due to her after payment
of the actual expenses incurred. This is the second occasion on which
she has done this, although in the previous case the refund was smaller.
These are some of the instances for which the people of China
have good reasons to be grateful to America and her people.
* I need hardly say that our students are also well treated
in England, France, Germany, Japan, and other countries in Europe,
but I am dealing in this chapter with America.
There is, however, another side to the picture; the Chinese students
in America, who may be roughly calculated by the thousands,
and whose number is annually increasing, have been taught
democratic principles of government. These could not but be detrimental
to the welfare of the late Manchu Government. They have read the history
of how the American people gained their independence,
and naturally they have been imbued with the idea of inaugurating
a similar policy in China. Chinese merchants, traders, and others
who have been residing in America, seeing the free and independent manner
in which the American people carry on their government, learned, of course,
a similar lesson. These people have been an important factor
in the recent overthrow of the Manchu dynasty. Added to this,
the fact that America has afforded a safe refuge for political offenders
was another cause of dissatisfaction to the Manchus.
Thus it will be seen that the Manchu Government, from their point of view,
have had many reasons for entertaining unfavorable sentiments toward America.
This view I need hardly say is not shared by the large majority of Chinese.
Persons who have committed political offenses in their own country
find protection not only in America but in all countries in Europe,
Japan, and other civilized lands. It is an irony of fate
that since the establishment of the Chinese Republic,
Manchu and other officials under the old regime, now find secure asylums
in Hongkong, Japan, and Tsingtao, while hundreds of ex-Manchu officials
have fled to the foreign settlements of Shanghai, Tientsin,
and other treaty ports, so reluctantly granted by the late Manchu Government.
Thus the edge of their complaint against America's policy
in harboring political refugees has been turned against themselves,
and the liberality against which they protested has become their protection.
The more substantial cause for dissatisfaction with the United States is,
I grieve to say, her Chinese exclusion policy. As long as
her discriminating laws against the Chinese remain in force
a blot must remain on her otherwise good name, and her relations with China,
though cordial, cannot be perfect. It is beyond the scope of this chapter
to deal with this subject exhaustively, but in order to enable my readers
to understand the exact situation it is necessary to supply
a short historical summary. In 1868, on account of the pressing need
of good laborers for the construction of railways and other public works
in America, the Governments of China and the United States,
concluded a treaty which provided that "Chinese subjects
visiting or residing in the United States shall enjoy the same privileges,
immunities, and exemptions in respect to travel or residence
as may be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation."
It was a treaty negotiated by that great American statesman, Secretary Seward,
and announced by the President of the United States to Congress
as a "liberal and auspicious treaty". It was welcomed by the United States
as a great advance in their international relations.
It had also the double significance of having been negotiated
by a Chinese special embassy, of which a distinguished American diplomat,
Mr. Anson Burlingame, who was familiar with the wishes and interests
of the American people, was the head.
But within a few years the labor unions on the Pacific coast
began to object to the competition of Chinese laborers.
Soon afterward the Chinese Government, to its intense surprise,
was informed that the President of the United States
had delegated a commission to come to Peking to solicit
an abrogation of the treaty clause to which reference has been made.
The Chinese Government was naturally unwilling to abrogate a treaty
which had been urged on her by the United States with so much zeal,
and which had so lately been entered upon on both sides with such high hopes.
Long and tedious negotiations ensued, and finally a short treaty
was concluded, the first and second Articles of which are as follows:
"Whenever in the opinion of the Government of the United States,
the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States,
or their residence therein, affects or threatens to affect the interests
of that country, or to endanger the good order of the said country
or of any locality within the territory thereof, the Government of China
agrees that the Government of the United States may regulate, limit,
or suspend such coming or residence, but may not absolutely prohibit it.
The limitation or suspension shall be reasonable and shall apply
only to Chinese who may go to the United States as laborers,
other classes not being included in the limitations. Legislation taken
in regard to Chinese laborers will be of such a character only as is necessary
to enforce the regulation, limitation, or suspension of immigration,
and immigrants shall not be subject to personal maltreatment or abuse."
"Chinese subjects, whether proceeding to the United States
as teachers, students, merchants, or from curiosity,
together with their body and household servants, and Chinese laborers
who are now in the United States shall be allowed to go and come
of their own free will and accord, and shall be accorded
all the rights, privileges, immunities, and exceptions which are accorded
to the citizens and subjects of the most favored nations."
It would seem reasonable to expect that in yielding so fully
to the wishes of the United States in this second negotiation
the Chinese Government would not be called upon to make
any further concessions in the interests or at the demand of
the labor unions on the Pacific coast, but in this China was disappointed.
Within a period of less than ten years an urgent application was made
by the American Secretary of State for a new treaty amended so as to enable
the Congress of the United States to still further restrict
the privileges of Chinese laborers who had come to the United States.
And when the Chinese Government hesitated to consent
to the withdrawal of rights which the United States granted to the subjects
of other Governments, Congress passed the Scott Act of 1888
prohibiting any Chinese person from entering the United States
except Chinese officials, teachers, students, merchants
or travellers for pleasure or curiosity and forbidding also
Chinese laborers in the United States, after having left,
from returning thereto. This, in the words of Hon. J. W. Foster,
ex-Secretary of State and a distinguished international lawyer,
"was a deliberate violation of the Treaty of 1880 and was so declared
by the Supreme Court of the United States." In order to save
the Executive of the United States from embarrassment, the Chinese Government,
contrary to its own sense of justice, and of international comity,
for a third time yielded to the wishes of the United States,
and concluded the amended treaty of 1894 which gave Congress
additional power of legislation respecting Chinese laborers.
By Article I of this treaty it was agreed that for a term of ten years
the coming of Chinese laborers to the United States
should be absolutely prohibited. Article III distinctly provided
that "the provisions of this convention shall not affect the right
at present enjoyed of Chinese subjects, being officials, teachers,
students, merchants, or travellers for curiosity or pleasure,
but not laborers, of coming to the United States and residing therein."
Thus it is clear that the prohibition affects only laborers,
and not the other classes of Chinese. For a few years
after the signing of this convention this was the view adopted and acted upon
by the immigration officials, but afterward they changed their attitude,
and the foregoing Article has since been interpreted to mean that only
the above-mentioned five classes can be admitted into the United States,
and that all the other classes of Chinese, however respectable and honorable,
must be refused admission. Will my readers believe that a Chinese banker,
physician, lawyer, broker, commercial agent, scholar or professor
could all be barred out of the United States of America under the provisions
of this convention? In the face of the plain language of the text
it seems too absurd and unreasonable to be contemplated, and yet it is a fact.
This convention was proclaimed in December, 1894. According to
its provisions, it was to remain in force only for a period of ten years,
but that if six months before the end of that period
neither Power should give notice of denunciation it should be extended
for a similar period. Such notice was, however, given by China
to the United States and accordingly the convention expired in December, 1904,
and is now no longer in force. No serious attempt has since been made
by the United States Government to negotiate a new treaty
regarding Chinese laborers, so the customs and immigration officials
continue to prohibit Chinese laborers from coming to America
by virtue of the law passed by Congress. It will be seen
that by the treaty of 1868, known as the "Burlingame Treaty",
the United States Government formally agreed that Chinese subjects,
visiting or residing in the United States, should enjoy
the same privileges and immunities as were enjoyed by the citizens or subjects
of the most favored nation; that being so, and as the convention of 1894
has expired, according to the legal opinion of Mr. John W. Foster,
and other eminent lawyers, the continuation of the exclusion
of Chinese laborers and the restrictions placed upon Chinese merchants
and others seeking admission to the United States are not only
without international authority but in violation of treaty stipulations.
The enforcement of the exclusion laws against Chinese
in the Hawaiian and Philippine Islands is still more inexcusable.
The complaint in America against the immigration of Chinese laborers
was that such immigration was detrimental to white labor,
but in those Islands there has been no such complaint; on the contrary
the enforcement of the law against the Chinese in Hawaii has been, and is,
contrary to the unanimous wish of the local Government and the people.
Free intercourse and immigration between those Islands and China
have been maintained for centuries. What is most objectionable and unfair
is that the Chinese should be singled out for discrimination,
while all other Asiatics such as Japanese, Siamese, and Malays
are allowed to enter America and her colonies without restraint.
It is my belief that the gross injustice that has been inflicted
upon the Chinese people by the harsh working of the exclusion law
is not known to the large majority of the American people,
for I am sure they would not allow the continuation of such hardships
to be suffered by those who are their sincere friends. China does not wish
special treatment, she only asks that her people shall be treated
in the same way as the citizens or subjects of other countries.
Will the great American nation still refuse to consent to this?
To solve the problem of immigration in a manner that would be satisfactory
to all parties is not an easy task, as so many conflicting interests
are involved. But it is not impossible. If persons interested
in this question be really desirous of seeing it settled
and are willing to listen to reasonable proposals, I believe
that a way may be found for its solution. There is good reason
for my optimistic opinion. Even the Labor Unions, unless I am mistaken,
would welcome an amicable settlement of this complicated question. In 1902,
while at Washington, I was agreeably surprised to receive a deputation
of the leaders of the Central Labor Union of Binghamton, New York,
inviting me to pay a visit there and to deliver an address.
As I did not wish to disappoint them I accepted their invitation.
During my short stay there, I was very cordially and warmly received,
and most kindly treated not only by the local authorities and inhabitants,
but by the members of the Labor Union and the working men also.
I found that the Union leaders and the working men were most reasonable,
their platform being, as far as I could learn, to have no
cheap labor competition but not necessarily discrimination against any race.
If the United States Government would appoint a commission composed of
members representing the Labor Unions, manufacturers and merchants,
to treat with a similar commission nominated by the Chinese Government,
the whole question in all its bearings could be discussed,
and I feel certain that after free and candid exchange of views,
the joint Commissioners would be able to arrive at a scheme
which would put at rest once for all the conflicting claims,
and settle the matter satisfactorily to both China and the United States.
When this disagreeable difference has been removed, the friendly relations
between the two Republics, cordial even while one was yet an Empire,
will leave nothing to be desired and cannot but help
to largely affect the trade between the two countries
and to contribute to the peace of the Far East.
Chapter 5. American Education
Out of a total population of 91,972,266 in the United States
there were, in 1910, 17,506,175 pupils enrolled. Few nations can show
such a high percentage of school students. The total number of teachers
was 506,040. Educational efficiency on such a scale can be maintained
only by a large expenditure of money, and from the statistics of education
I find that the sum received from tuition fees was $14,687,192 gold,
from productive funds $11,592,113 gold, and from the United States Government
$4,607,298 gold, making a total of $70,667,865 gold.*
I question whether any other nation can produce such an excellent example
in the cause of education.
* There appears to be $39,781,262 missing from these figures.
Possibly Wu Tingfang's figures are incorrect, but it seems more likely
that he neglected to include expenditures by state and local governments.
-- A. R. L., 1996.
In every state there are very many schools, both public and private.
There are public schools in every town, and even the smallest village
has its school, while in some agricultural states, such as Wyoming,
where the population is very scattered, teachers are provided by
the government to teach in the farmers' homes wherever three or four children
can be gathered together. The public schools are free and open to all,
but in some towns in the Southern States special schools are provided
for the colored people. Having such facilities for gaining knowledge,
it naturally follows that the Americans, as a whole, are an educated people.
By this I mean the native American, not the recent immigrants and negroes,
but even as regards the latter a reservation should be made,
for some of the negroes, such as Booker T. Washington and others,
have become eminent through their learning and educational work.
The distinguishing feature of the school system is that it is
cheap and comprehensive. In the primary and high schools the boys and girls,
whether they come from the wealthy or aristocratic families, or from
more straitened homes, are all studying together in the same class-room,
and it is known that a President sent his son to study in a public school.
There is, therefore, no excuse for even the poorest man in America
being an illiterate. If he wishes he can obtain a degree in a university
without difficulty. Many of the state universities admit the children
of citizens of the state free, while their tuition fees for outsiders
are exceptionally low, so that it is within the power of the man
of the most moderate means to give his son a university education.
Many of the college or university students, in order to enable them to go
through their courses of study, do outside jobs after their lecture hours,
and perform manual, or even menial work, during the vacations.
I frequently met such students in summer resorts acting as hotel waiters
and found them clean, attentive, and reliable. During a visit
to Harvard University, President Eliot took me to see the dining-hall.
Many students were taking their lunch at the time. I noticed that the waiters
were an unusually clean set of young men, and upon inquiry was informed
that they were students of the University, and that when a waiter was wanted
many students applied, as the poorer students were glad to avail themselves
of the opportunity to earn some money.
Honest labor, though menial, is not considered degrading,
and no American of education and refinement is above doing it.
In some of the states in the East, owing to the scarcity of servants,
families do their own cooking and other household work.
Some few years ago I was on a visit to Ashburnham, Massachusetts,
and was surprised to find that my hostess not only did the cooking
but also cleaned my room. I was invited to a formal luncheon by a professor,
and to my astonishment his two daughters waited at the table.
This is not unlike what occurs in some parts of China in the interior.
The members of families, although in good circumstances,
do their own household work. In some towns, not far from Canton,
wealthy farmers and country gentlemen hire out their sons as menials,
so that these youngsters, when they have grown up,
shall know the value of money and not squander the family wealth.
I cite a typical case of a millionaire who had only one son.
In order to make him appreciate the worth of money he took his boy to Canton,
and allowed him to be hired out as an ordinary servant.
The boy was ordered by his master to look after a certain part of the house,
and also to take care of a little garden. One day he carelessly broke
a valuable gold-fish jar much prized by the family.
His master naturally became enraged and reproached him for his negligence.
The young man coolly told him that if he would come to his father's house
he could replace the broken vessel by making his own selection
from his father's collection of gold-fish jars. This irritated the master,
who thought that the lad was adding insult to injury. However, ultimately,
his master was persuaded to go with him to his father's house,
and to his great astonishment he found there many gold-fish jars
which were more precious than that which the lad had broken.
Household work, however mean it may be, is not considered degrading in China,
but the difference between China and America is that in America
the people are compelled to do it from necessity, while in China
it is resorted to as a matter of policy to make the young men
realize the value of money, and not spend it wastefully.
The curriculum prescribed in the schools covers a wide range of subjects,
and the graduates are well equipped to face the battle of life.
Not only are drawing, sketching and other fine arts taught,
but also carpentry and other trades. I was once shown a fairly made box
which was the product of a very small boy. I did not at first perceive
the use of teaching a boy to do such work in school, but I learned
that its object was to instruct the pupil how to think
and arrange his materials systematically.
With the exception of those schools established by Christian societies,
or endowed by religious sects, all educational institutions,
especially those established by the state authorities, are secular.
Religion is not taught. Neither the Bible nor any other religious work
is used in the schoolroom. The presidents, professors, and tutors
may be strict churchmen, or very religious people, but, as a rule,
they are not permitted to inculcate their religious views on the students.
The minds of the young are most susceptible, and if no moral principles
are impressed upon them at school or college they are apt to go astray.
It should be remembered that men of education without moral principles
are like a ship without an anchor. Ignorant and illiterate people
infringe the law because they do not know any better,
and their acts of depredation are clumsy and can be easily found out,
but when men of education commit crimes these are so skilfully
planned and executed that it is difficult for the police
to unravel and detect them. It has been known that frauds and forgeries
perpetrated by such unscrupulous persons were so cleverly designed
that they bore the evidence of superior education, and almost of genius.
The more a man is educated the more is it necessary, for the welfare
of the state, to instruct him how to make a proper use of his talents:
Education is like a double-edged sword. It may be turned to dangerous usages
if it is not properly handled.
As there is no established church in the United States,
and in view of the numberless different sects, it is not advisable
to permit any particular phase of religion to be taught.
But why not consent to allow the cardinal principles of morality
to be taught in every school? The following may serve as examples:
(1) Honesty is the best policy.
(2) Honor thy father and thy mother.
(3) Universal brotherhood.
(4) Love of mankind.
(5) Charity to all.
(6) Purity in thought and action.
(7) Pure food makes a pure body.
(8) Happiness consists of health and a pure conscience.
(9) Live and let live.
(10) Respect a man for his virtues, not for his money or position.
(11) `Fiat justitia, ruat coelum' (Let justice be done,
though the Heavens should fall).
(12) Bear no malice against anyone.
(13) Be equitable and just to all men.
(14) Liberty and freedom but not license.
(15) Do not unto others what ye would not that others should do unto you.
I have jotted down the above just as they occurred to me while writing.
They can easily be amplified, and be made the basis of an ethical instruction
in all the schools. In any case, every nation should aim
at the highest standard of morals.
Co-education in the United States is not so unpopular as in some
other countries, and it is increasing in favor. In all the primary schools,
and in most of the high schools, boys and girls study in the same class-room,
and girls are admitted as students even in some colleges and universities.
This principle of admitting the fair sex to equal educational privileges
is slowly but surely being recognized everywhere. In some universities
the authorities have gone half-way; lectures are given to the girl students
in separate rooms, or separate buildings, or halls, are provided
for the girl students. With regard to the teaching staff,
in the primary schools nearly all the teachers are women,
and in the high schools their number is at least half, if not more.
In some of the universities there are lady professors or tutors.
It goes without saying that girls have the natural talent
for learning everything that boys can learn. The objections raised
by the opponents of co-education seem to rest chiefly upon the danger
of the intellectual or physical overstrain of girls during adolescence,
and upon the unequal rate of development of boys and girls
during the secondary school period. It is further alleged
that in mixed schools the curriculum is so prescribed
that the girls' course of study is more or less adapted to that of the boys,
with the result that it cannot have the artistic and domestic character
which is suitable for the majority of girls; but why should not the curriculum
be arranged in such a way as to suit both sexes? Is it not good for both
to learn the same subjects? That which is good for a boy to learn
is it not equally advisable for a girl to know, and vice versa?
Will not such a policy create mutual sympathy between the sexes?
The opponents of the co-education policy assert that it makes
the girls masculine, and that it has a tendency to make the boys
a little feminine. It cannot, however, be doubted that the system
reduces the cost of education, such as the duplication of the teaching staff,
laboratories, libraries, and other equipment.
It is objected that the system has done more than anything else
to rob marriage of its attractions, by divesting man of most of his
old-time glamour and romance. It is claimed that this early contact
with the other sex, on a footing of equality, and the manner in which
the majority of the girl students more than maintain
their intellectual standing with the boys, has tended to produce
that contempt of the much-vaunted superiority of man, that, as a rule,
is reserved for those post-nuptial discoveries which make marriage
such an interesting venture. But they forget that marriages
are frequently contracted in places where girls and boys are taught together,
and where they have had ample opportunities for knowing each other intimately,
and that experience proves that such marriages are happy and lasting unions.
It is interesting to observe, however, that as the number
of educational institutions has increased, the number of unmarried women
has been correspondingly augmented. It is easy to explain this
by the fact that a large number of women earn their own livelihood
by going into business and the professions. As they become more educated,
and are allowed to participate in many of the same privileges as men,
it is only natural that they should show their independence
by remaining single. The same thing would occur in any country,
and we may expect a like state of things in China as greater facilities
for instruction are afforded to women. I do not feel alarmed at the prospect;
indeed, I would welcome it if I could see my country-women acting
as independently and as orderly as their American sisters.
The games and sports sanctioned and encouraged in schools and universities
are useful, in that they afford diversion of the pupils' minds
from their school work. They should not, however, be indulged in
in such a way as to interfere with their studies. Take, as an example,
boat racing; several months of preparation are necessary
before the event takes place, and during a great portion of this time
the students do not think much of their studies; they are all
mad with excitement. The contest between the two rival parties is very keen;
they have but one thought, and that is to win the race. In this way,
at least so it seems to me, the main object of recreation is entirely
lost sight of; it becomes no longer an amusement, but labor and work.
I am told that the coxswain and the other members of the boat race
generally have to take a long rest when the race is over,
which clearly shows that they have been overworking.
I favor all innocent games and sports which mean recreation and diversion,
but if it be thought that without a contest games would lose
their relish and their fun, then I would suggest that the aim should be
the exhibition of a perfect body and absolute health. Let the students,
when they come to the recreation ground, indulge in any sport they please,
but make them feel that it is "bad form" to overstrain, or do anything which,
even temporarily, mars the perfect working of their physical organisms.
Let each student so train himself as to become healthy and strong
both physically and mentally, and the one who, through reasonable
and wholesome exercises, is able to present himself in the most perfect health
should be awarded the highest prize.
Chapter 6. American Business Methods
If I should be asked what is most essential for the successful carrying on
of business in America I would say advertising. A business man in America
who intends to succeed must advertise in the daily, weekly,
and monthly papers, and also have big posters in the streets.
I do not believe any up-to-date merchant in America fails to do this.
Every book and magazine contains many advertisements; sometimes fully half
of a big magazine is covered with notices or pictures of articles for sale.
Wherever you go the inevitable poster confronts you; and even when
you look out of the window of the train you see large sign-boards
announcing some article of trade. The newer the brand the bigger the picture.
If when you get into a street-car you look around you will see nothing
but advertisements of all kinds and sorts, and if you answer an advertisement
you will keep on receiving notices of the matter about which you inquired.
Even now I receive letters urging me to buy something or other
about which I sent a letter of inquiry when I was in America.
At night, if you stroll round the town you will be amazed by the ingenious
and clever signs which the alert minds of the trades people have invented,
such as revolving electric lights forming the name of the advertiser
with different colors, or a figure or shape of some sort
illustrating his wares. But even this is not thought sufficient.
Circulars are often sent to everyone, making special offers,
setting forth forceful reasons why the commodity advertised is indispensable.
Certain stores make it a point to announce cheap sales once or twice a year,
with from 10 to 25 per cent. reduction. It should be noted
that no tradesman voluntarily sells his goods at a loss,
so that if during a sale he can give as much as 25 per cent. discount
we can easily calculate the percentage of profit he generally makes.
There are cases where men who started as petty dealers have,
after a few years, become millionaires.
To show the importance of advertising I cite the well-known sanitary drink
which is a substitute for tea and coffee, and which by extensive advertising
in almost every paper published in every country has now become
a favorite beverage. The proprietor is now a multi-millionaire and I am told
that he spends more than a million dollars a year in advertising.
Another thing inseparable from American business is the telephone.
A telephone is a part of every well-appointed house, every partner's desk
is provided with a telephone, through which he talks to his clients
and transacts business with them. In all official departments in Washington
scores of telephones are provided; even the secretary of the department
and the chief of the bureau give orders by telephone.
It goes without saying that this means of communication
is also found in the home of almost every well-to-do family.
The invention of a telephone is a great blessing to mankind;
it enables friends to talk to each other at a distance without the trouble
of calling.* Sweethearts can exchange their sweet nothings,
and even proposals of marriage have been made and accepted
through the telephone. However, one is subjected to frequent annoyances
from wrong connections at the Central Office, and sometimes
grave errors are made. Once, through a serious blunder,
or a mischievous joke, I lost a dinner in my Legation in Washington.
My valet received a telephone message from a lady friend
inviting me to dine at her house. I gladly accepted the invitation,
and at the appointed time drove to her home, only to find
that there was no dinner-party on, and that I should have to go hungry.
* "To call" in the sense of "to visit". -- A. R. L., 1996.
With some trades, in order to create a new market,
commercial travellers or "drummers" give their goods away for nothing.
Experience has proved that what they lose at the start they recover
in the course of time, receiving in addition triple or tenfold more business
than the cost of the original outlay. These commercial agents travel
through all sections of the country to solicit business;
they call upon those who can give them orders; they look up those
who are engaged in similar businesses to their own,
and, if they are retailers, they invite their orders, or ask them
to become sub-agents. These gentlemen practically live on the trains:
they eat, sleep, and do their business while travelling.
One of them told me that in one month he had covered 38,000 miles,
and that he had not been back to his firm for three months.
There is no doubt that the American people are active, strenuous workers.
They will willingly go any distance, and undertake any journey,
however arduous, if it promises business; they seem to be always on the go,
and they are prepared to start anywhere at a moment's notice.
An American who called on me a short time ago in Shanghai
told me that when he left his house one morning at New York,
he had not the slightest notion he was going to undertake
a long journey that day; but that when he got to his office
his boss asked him if he would go to China on a certain commission.
He accepted the responsibility at once and telephoned to his wife
to pack up his things. Two hours later he was on a train
bound for San Francisco where he boarded a steamer for China.
The same gentleman told me that this trip was his second visit to China
within a few months.
American salesmen are clever and capable, and well know how to recommend
whatever they have to sell. You walk into a store just to look around;
there may be nothing that you want, but the adroit manner
in which the salesman talks, and the way in which he explains
the good points of every article at which you look,
makes it extremely difficult for you to leave the store
without making some purchases. Salesmen and commercial travellers
in the United States have certainly learned the art of speaking.
I once, however, met a remarkable exception to this rule
in the person of an American gentleman who was singularly lacking in tact;
he was in China with the intention of obtaining a concession,
and he had nearly accomplished his object when he spoilt everything
by his blunt speech. He said he had not come to China
for any philanthropic purposes, but that he was in the country to make money.
We all know that the average business man is neither a Peabody nor a Carnegie,
but it was quite unnecessary for this gentleman to announce
that his sole object was to make money out of the Chinese.
Up to a few years ago business men in America, especially capitalists,
had scarcely any idea of transacting business in China.
I well remember the difficulty I had in raising a railway loan in America.
It was in 1897. I had received positive instructions from my government
to obtain a big loan for the purpose of constructing the proposed railway
from Hankow to Canton. I endeavored to interest well-known bankers and
capitalists in New York City but none of them would consider the proposals.
They invariably said that their money could be just as easily,
and just as profitably, invested in their own country,
and with better security, than was obtainable in China.
It was only after nearly twelve months of hard work,
of careful explanation and much persuasion, that I succeeded in finding
a capitalist who was prepared to discuss the matter and make the loan.
Conditions have now changed. American bankers and others have found
that investments in China are quite safe. They have sent agents to China
to represent them in the matter of a big international loan,
and they are now just as ready to lend money in China as in Europe,
and on the same terms. In conjunction with the representatives
of some large European capitalists they even formed a powerful syndicate
in China, for the purpose of arranging loans to responsible Chinese investors.
In the spring of 1913, however, they withdrew from the syndicate.
The opportunities to make money in America are great
and a young man with only fair ability, but an honest purpose,
will always get something to do; and if he is industrious
and ready for hard work, if he possess courage and perseverance,
he will most surely go forward and probably in time become independent.
There are hundreds of millionaires and multi-millionaires in America who,
in their younger days, were as poor as sparrows in a snowstorm,
but through perseverance, combined with industrious and economical habits
they have prospered far beyond their own expectations.
The clever methods they adopt in the carrying on of their business
cannot but arouse our admiration, and Chinese merchants would do well
to send some of their sons to America to study the various systems
practised there. But no nation or any class of people is perfect,
and there is one money-making device which seems to me
not quite sound in principle. To increase the capital of a corporation
new shares are sometimes issued, without a corresponding increase
in the actual capital. These new shares may represent half,
or as much of the actual capital as has been already subscribed.
Such a course is usually defended by the claim that as the property
and franchises have increased in value since the formation of the corporation
the increase of the stock is necessary in order to fairly represent
the existing capital. It is said that some railway stock
has been "watered" in this way to an alarming extent,
so that a great deal of it is fictitious, yet though it exists only on paper
it ranks as the equal of the genuine stock when the dividends are paid.
Whether or not such an action really is justifiable, or even moral,
I leave to the Christian clergy and their followers to decide.
The promoters and directors of such concerns have at least hit upon
a very clever method for becoming rich, and if the securities
of the original shareholders are not injured, and the holders
of the genuine and the watered stock can share equally without endangering
the interests of all, perhaps such an action may be less blamable,
but it is a new kind of proceeding to Orientals.
I must not omit to mention, however, the confidence which is placed
in the honesty of the people in general; for example, you enter an omnibus,
you will find the driver, but no conductor to collect the fare.
"It is up to you" to put the fare into a box, and if you do not pay
no one will ask for it. Yet every fare is paid. I have never seen
a dishonest man who omitted to pay. This is a remarkable fact
which I have noticed nowhere but in America. I suppose it is because
the people are not poor, and as they are always able to pay the fare
they do so. They are too honest to cheat. It is certainly a good way
to encourage people to be honest, to put them on their honor
and then rely on their own sense of uprightness.
The most curious sight I have ever seen was the Stock Exchange in New York.
It is used as a market for the purchase and sale of various articles,
but there were no goods exposed for sale. I saw a good many people
running about talking, yelling and howling, and had I not been
informed beforehand what to expect I should have thought that the men
were getting ready, in their excitement, for a general all round fight.
However, I did not see any exchange of blows, and I did not hear
that any blood was shed.
Another remarkable feature of the scene was that I did not see
a single woman there; she was conspicuous by her absence.
Whether or not the rules of the Exchange allow her to become a member
I do not know; that is a question for the woman suffragists to investigate,
but I learned that it is a wealthy association consisting of 1,100 members,
and that to become a member one must be a citizen of the United States
of 21 years of age or more. The number of members is limited.
Persons obtain membership by election, or by the transfer
of the membership of a member who has resigned or died.
A new member who is admitted by transfer pays an initiation fee
of 2,000 gold dollars, in addition to a large fee to the transferrer,
for his "seat in the House". A member may transfer his seat to his son,
if the Committee of the Exchange approve, without charging for it;
but in all cases the transferree pays the above-mentioned initiation fee
of 2,000 gold dollars.
The prices for these seats vary, the fluctuations being due
to the upward or downward trend of the stock market. Within recent years
the price has risen considerably, and as much as 95,000 gold dollars
has been paid to the transferrer. This is much higher than the price
usually paid by new members in Stock Exchanges in Europe,
yet when a seat becomes vacant there is no lack of purchasers.
It is clear that a seat in the "House" is very valuable to the holder.
In the building each member has a stall allotted to him
where he has a telephone for his exclusive use; this enables him
to communicate every transaction done in the Exchange to his business house,
and to keep up connections with his constituents in other cities.
When one of his constituents, say in Washington, D.C.,
desires to buy a certain security the order is conveyed to him direct,
and executed without delay. I have seen a transaction of this kind
executed in ten minutes, though there was a distance of several hundred miles
between client and broker. The amount of business transacted
in the "House" every day is enormous, aggregating many millions of dollars.
New York also has other Exchanges, where different articles of merchandise
are purchased and sold, such as corn, coffee, cotton, etc.,
and the volume of business transacted daily in that "Empire City"
must be immense, and almost beyond calculation.
Of course there are Exchanges in Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati,
St. Louis, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and other cities,
all conducted on similar lines, but the prices are always governed
by the quotations from New York. This skilful and systematic
way of doing business is remarkable, and I am inclined to believe
that New York is ahead of many cities in South America and in Europe.
No wonder that the services of Americans are required by other countries
in industrial and technical concerns. Some years ago,
when I was in Madrid, I noticed that the street tram-car
was running according to the American system, and upon inquiry
I was told it was controlled by an American syndicate.
The pursuit of wealth in America is intense; it is apparent everywhere
and seems to be the chief aim of the American people.
Because of their eagerness to become rich as soon as possible
they are all in a constant hurry. You may see people in the streets
almost running to their offices, at luncheon they do not masticate their food,
they bolt it, and in less than ten minutes are on their way
back to their office again. Everyone is urged on by this spirit of haste,
and you frequently hear of sudden deaths which doctors attribute
to heart failure, or some other malady, but which I suspect
are caused by the continual restless hurry and worry.
People who are so unnaturally eager to get rich naturally suffer for it.
It is the general belief that Americans do not live as long as Europeans.
They make money easily and their expectations are high.
I have known many Americans who, in my opinion, were wealthy people,
but they themselves did not think so; in fact, they said they were poor.
Once I asked a gentleman, who was known to be worth
half a million of gold dollars, whether it was not time for him to retire.
He pooh-poohed the idea and said that he could not afford to give up his work.
In reply to my inquiries he informed me that he would not call a man wealthy
unless he should be possessed of one or two millions of dollars.
With such extravagant ideas, it is no wonder that Americans work so hard.
I grant that a man's mission in this world is to attain happiness.
According to Webster, happiness is "that state of being
which is attended with enjoyment," but it is curious to observe
what different notions people have as to what happiness is.
I know an Englishman in China who by his skilful business management,
combined with good luck, has amassed immense wealth; in fact,
he is considered the richest man in the port where he resides.
He is a bachelor, over seventy years old, and leads a very simple life.
But he still goes to his office every day, and toils as if he had to work
for a living. Being told that he should discontinue his drudgery,
as at his death he would have to leave his large fortune to relatives
who would probably squander it, he gave an answer which is characteristic
of the man. "I love," he said, "accumulating dollars and bank notes,
and my enjoyment is in counting them; if my relatives
who will inherit my fortune, take as much pleasure in spending it
as I have had in making it, they will be quite welcome to their joy."
Not many people, I fancy, will agree with the old bachelor's view of life.
I once suggested to a multi-millionaire of New York that it was time for him
to retire from active work, leaving his sons to carry on his business.
He told me that he would be unhappy without work and that he enjoyed
the demands his business made on him each day.
Many a man's life has been shortened by his retiring from business.
It is the mind rather than the body that lives, and apart from their business
these men have no thoughts and therefore no life. A man's idea of happiness
is greatly governed by his personal tastes, and is influenced
by his environment, his education and the climate.
The form which it is to assume may vary with persons
of different tastes and positions, but it should not be carried out
for his own benefit solely and it should not be injurious to his health
or to his intellectual and spiritual improvement, nor should it be detrimental
to the interests of other people.
Chapter 7. American Freedom and Equality
When an Oriental, who, throughout his life, has lived in his own country
where the will of his Sovereign is supreme, and the personal liberty
of the subject unknown, first sets foot on the soil of the United States,
he breathes an atmosphere unlike anything he has ever known,
and experiences curious sensations which are absolutely new.
For the first time in his life he feels that he can do whatever he pleases
without restraint, and that he can talk freely to people without fear.
When he takes up a newspaper and reads statements about different persons
in high positions which are not at all creditable to them,
and learns that no serious consequences happen to the writers,
he is lost in wonderment. After a little time he begins to understand
that this is the "land of the free and the home of the brave",
and that in America everybody is on an equality. The President,
the highest official in the United States, is neither more nor less
than a citizen; and should he, which is very unlikely, commit an offense,
or do anything in contravention of the law, he would be tried in
a Court of Justice in the same manner as the lowest and the poorest citizen.
Naturally the new visitor thinks this the happiest people on earth,
and wishes that his own country could be governed as happily.
Until that lucky day arrives he feels that he would rather
stay in free America than return to his native land.
One of the first lessons which is learned by the American child in school,
and which is deeply impressed on its mind by its teacher,
is that according to the Constitution all persons are born equal,
and that no distinction is made between sections, classes, or sects.
No slaves, or persons under bonds, have been allowed in the United States
since the abolition of slavery by President Lincoln. The moment a slave,
or anyone in bonds, steps on the shores of the United States he is free,
and no one, not even his former master, can deprive him of his liberty.
America also affords an asylum for oppressed people and for
political offenders; people who have been persecuted in their own land,
on account of their religion, or for political offenses, find a safe refuge
in this country. Every year large numbers of Jews, and other foreigners,
emigrate to America for the sake of enjoying religious freedom.
Perfect religious liberty is guaranteed to everyone in the United States.
There is equal religious liberty in England, but the King is compelled
to belong to a particular section of the Christian Church,
whereas in the United States no restriction is placed
on the religious belief of the President; thus one President was a Baptist,
another a Unitarian, and a third a Congregationalist; and, if elected,
a Jew, a Mohammedan, or a Confucianist could become the President.
Several Jews have held high Federal offices; they have even been
Cabinet Ministers. Article VI of the Constitution of the United States says:
"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification
to any office or public trust under the United States."
So ingrained in the minds of the American people is this principle
of liberty and freedom of action that I do not believe they would resign it
for any consideration whatsoever. Once an English Duke was asked
whether he would accept the throne of China on the sole condition
that he must reside in the Palace of Peking, and act as the Chinese Emperors
have always been accustomed to act. He replied that such an exalted position
of power and responsibility would be very great and tempting,
but that he would on no account accept such an honor on such terms,
as it would practically make him a prisoner. Though a subject
under a monarchial form of government, he would not forfeit
his right of freedom of action; and much less would a democratic American
give up his birthright for any price. I knew an eminent and learned
Judge of the Supreme Court in Washington, who used to say
that he would never bend his knees to any human being,
and that to the Almighty God alone would he ever do homage.
He no doubt acted up to his principles, but I much doubt if all Americans
observe so lofty an ideal. A young lover in proposing to his sweetheart
would not mind kneeling down to support his prayer.
I have seen penitent husbands bending their knees to ask the forgiveness
of their offended wives. This, however, can be explained by the fact
that the act of kneeling is not, in such cases, a sign of inferiority,
but the act of one equal asking a favor from another;
still it is the bending of the knee which was so solemnly abjured
by the learned Judge.
The dislike of distinction of classes which arises from
the principle of equality is apparent wherever you go in the States.
The railroad cars are not marked first, second, or third,
as they are in Europe. It is true that there are Pullman cars,
and palace cars, with superior and superb accommodation,
and for which the occupant has to pay an extra fare;
but the outside of the car simply bears the name "Pullman"
without indicating its class, and anyone who is willing to pay the fare
may share its luxuries. I should mention that in some of the Southern states
negroes are compelled to ride on separate cars. On one occasion,
arriving at the railroad station in one of those states,
I noticed there were two waiting-rooms, one labelled "For the White",
and the other "For the Colored". The railway porter took my portmanteau
to the room for the white, but my conscience soon whispered
I had come to the wrong place, as neither of the two rooms was intended
for people of my complexion. The street-cars are more democratic;
there is no division of classes; all people, high or low,
sit in the same car without distinction of race, color or sex.
It is a common thing to see a workman, dressed in shabby clothes full of dirt,
sitting next to a millionaire or a fashionable lady gorgeously clothed.
Cabinet officers and their wives do not think it beneath their dignity
to sit beside a laborer, or a coolie, as he is called in China.
Foreign Ministers and Ambassadors coming to Washington soon learn to follow
these local customs. In a European country they ride in coronated carriages,
with two liverymen; but in Washington they usually go about on foot,
or travel by the street-cars. I frequently saw the late Lord Pauncefote,
the celebrated British Ambassador to Washington, ride to the State Department
in the street-car. My adoption of this democratic way of travelling
during the time I was in America was the cause of a complaint
being made against me at Peking. The complainants were certain
Chinese high officials who had had occasion to visit the States;
one of them had had a foreign education, and ought to have known better
than to have joined in the accusation that my unpretentious manner of living
was not becoming the dignity of a representative of China.
They forgot that when in Rome you must do as the Romans do,
and that to ride in a sumptuous carriage, with uniformed footmen,
is in America not only an unnecessary expense, but a habit which,
among such a democratic people as the Americans, would detract from,
rather than add to, one's dignity. An envoy residing in a foreign country
should be in touch with the people among whom he is sojourning.
If he put on unnecessary airs, there will be a coldness and lack of cordiality
between him and the community; his sphere of usefulness will be curtailed,
and his knowledge of the people and their country limited.
Of course, in a European Capital, where every diplomat drives in a carriage,
I should follow the example of my colleagues. But even in England,
I frequently met high statesmen, such, for example, as Lord Salisbury,
walking in the streets. This unrestrained liberty and equality
is remarkably conspicuous in the United States; for instance,
at the White House official receptions or balls in Washington,
I have seen ladies in ordinary dress, while on one occasion
a woman appeared in the dress of a man. This was Doctor Mary Walker.
In a democratic country, such as the United States, one would
naturally suppose that the people enjoyed a greater degree of freedom
than is possible in monarchial countries. But, so far from this being so,
in some respects, they appear to be in a worse position.
On my return journey from South America, some years ago,
our steamer had to stay for four hours outside of New York harbor.
We had first to wait for the doctor to come on board to make
his inspection of all the passengers, then the Customs officials appeared
and examined the luggage and boxes of all the passengers,
and then, last but not the least, we had to wait for the immigration officers.
All this necessarily took time, and it was not until all these inspections
were completed that the steamer was allowed to enter the harbor,
and to tie up alongside the dock. And this occurred in the land
of freedom and liberty! I spoke to some of my American fellow passengers
about the inconvenience and delay, and though they all murmured
they quietly submitted. Customs and sanitary inspection
should be so conducted as to cause as little delay as possible.
I have visited many countries in Europe, in South America, and in Asia,
but I have never known of a ship having to stay outside
the harbor of the port of her destination for so long a time.
Take another case; some months since, I wished, in compliance with the request
of a lady in America, to send her a chow-dog. A mutual friend was willing
to take it to her, but, upon making inquiries at the American Consulate
as to the Customs regulations, he was informed that it would be impossible
for him to undertake the commission, as the Customs officers at San Francisco,
besides imposing a heavy duty on the dog, would keep the ship in quarantine
because the dog was on board. I could scarcely believe this,
but inquiries confirmed the truth of my friend's statement.
Customs and immigration laws and sanitary regulations must, of course,
be observed, but they should be enforced in such a way as not to work hardship
on the people. Officers entrusted with the performance of such duties,
while faithfully and conscientiously performing their work,
should yet exercise their power with discretion and tact.
They are the servants of the people, and ought to look after
their interests and convenience as well as after the interests of the State.
I would be the last one to encourage smuggling, but would
the national interests really suffer if the Custom House officers
were to be a little more ready to accept a traveller's word,
and if they were less ready to suspect everyone of making false declarations
when entering the country? Smuggling must be repressed,
but at the same time is it not true that the more imports enter the country
the better it is for the State and for the people?
There are no peers in the United States, as the Government has no power
to create them; and although America is nominally a free country,
yet if a foreign government should confer a decoration on an American citizen
for services rendered, he cannot accept it without the consent of Congress,
just as under a monarchy a subject must obtain his sovereign's permission
to wear a foreign decoration. It is true that there are
some such titled persons in America, but they are not treated
with any greater respect or distinction than other citizens;
yet you frequently find people in America who not only would not disdain,
but are actually anxious, to receive decorations from foreign governments.
Once, at least, an American high official, just before leaving the country
to which he had been accredited, accepted, without permission, a decoration,
knowing, that if he had asked for the consent of Congress,
he would not have been allowed to receive it.
It is human nature to love change and variety, and for every person
to be designated "Mister" is too tame and flat for the go-ahead Americans.
Hence many of the people whom you meet daily have some prefix to their names,
such as General, Colonel, Major, President, Judge, etc.
You will not be far wrong to call a man "Judge" when he is a lawyer;
or "General" or "Colonel" if he has served in the army;
or "Admiral" or "Captain" if he has been in the navy. Though neither
the Federal nor the State Government has power to confer titles,